What a difference a day makes. One night we went to bed comfortable with the concept that Terry Branstad has been governor of Iowa for what seems like several hundred years, and that presumably he’d be in charge for a couple hundred more, even if it required some form of cryogenic freezing.
We wake up the next with our guy packing his bags for Beijing, Kim Reynolds being handed the keys to the kingdom, and our area’s congressman who has just been re-elected to his eighth term making noises like he might split to run for governor himself.
We were barely getting over the idea of a reality TV star as president and the government becoming the biggest weed dealer in the world, and now our never-changing Iowa political world is turning all topsy-turvy overnight.
Even for those who didn’t like what we had, it was ours, familiar and ever-so predictable. We haven’t had to think much about it for most of our lives, except to consider which wide-eyed libs Branstad, Grassley and King would beat down next. Now we are in uncharted waters. Change - what’s that?
Making Branstad the ambassador to China makes more sense that most of the Trump appointments so far, I suppose (it would be a challenge to top naming a guy who denies climate change to head the Environmental Protection Agency).
Some will call it cronyism, a returned favor for Branstad crossing to the Trump camp after he was chosen nominee, and delivering a key state in the vote. But honestly, Branstad is deserving and probably as well-equipped as anyone for a job that is no stroll in the political park. Keeping relations smooth with powerful China, especially with such a volatile character in the White House, is going to be important work.
Our governor has made buds in Beijing, he knows the secret handshakes, and no matter what your politics, you have to admit Branstad has been a steady force on international and agricultural trade, not to mention he’s a warm and likeable guy.
To be honest, it may be time for the governor to take on a new challenge, and time for the state to move in a new direction.
What about Kim Reynolds? She’s certainly led a charmed existence. Growing up in a little town of 600, attending three colleges including community college twice without ever managing to graduate, a couple of OWI convictions in back to back to back years, and past careers as a pharmacy assistant and county treasurer’s DMV employee, isn’t exactly your traditional fast track to becoming all-powerful poo-bah of an entire state. She served only half a term in the state legislature before being tapped as Branstad’s running mate, and now she’ll seemingly be governor without ever running for that office. The stars do align nicely for Mrs. R.
There is something to be said for making the most of opportunity, however. Reynolds has made her time as lieutenant governor one long training camp at the foot of the master. They’ve been political siamese twins, good luck trying to see one without the other.
Reynolds has been quiet, deferring to the governor in public speaking most of the time, and we’ll be eager to see what she has to say, and what agenda she will bring, with her apprenticeship complete.
She has put on the miles, done the legwork, and been, I think, a rather gracious, intelligent presence for her state. Rather than kick back and cash that $100k check with few responsibilities as a number two, she’s done some impressive work on economic development, job creation, technology, STEM education, chaired the Iowa Energy Plan. That’s not a bad hand to bring to this poker table.
As for King, we will wait and see. He’s “not ruled out” running for higher office more than once, only to stick to the safely conservative district where he seems virtually unbeatable.
It’s been interesting this week also to see the President-elect claim he’s going to “cancel order” on a new Air Force One jet. Overpriced, he says.
Good for him. The guy can afford his own 747, or we could patch up the 30-year-old model like Cuba does with 1958 Chevys. Can you still buy 8-trax?
Heck, the president would be able to stay in touch with the public by flying coach. He would probably have the clout to get a FULL can of warm pop. Better yet, we could take up a collection to buy a season Greyhound pass.
Spend $4 billion of our money on a plane for some future president to escape an armageddon they probably cause, leaving us poor slobs to be nuked to smithereens? Cancel order, we say, not that anyone has asked us.
While he’s in cost-cutting mode, does it make sense for people who work barely minimum wage labor to pay taxes to provide security for a billionaire politician who is admired for being able to pay no taxes?
Perfect opportunity for Mr. Trump to cancel another order. Given the wealth of candidates this past cycle, it seems reasonable to expect them to pay for their own security, does’t it? Once elected, it would also seem reasonable for the public to provide Secret Service protection for the White House and for official state appearances and trips, but if the president wants coppers for their vacations or weekends in a tower penthouse in New York, it can be on his dime.
One thing you can say for Trump. He hasn’t even been sworn in yet, and already it’s getting interesting.